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Volunteerism – A Big OE With a Conscience

31st July 2017

Volunteerism – A Big OE With a Conscience

Teaching Nepalese monks English in a Himalayan monastery is just one of the different ways young New Zealanders are taking their skills to the world as the traditional Big OE adapts to the 21st century according to Vicki Kenny, founder of International Working Holidays (IWH), the specialist overseas employment agency.

The opportunity to teach different subjects including English and have one on one English conversation classes with novice monks at Buddhist monasteries in Nepal is the latest offering from IWH, with travellers staying either in the monastery or in an accommodation nearby, allowing for full immersion into the lifestyle of the monks.

Vicki explains: ‘Young New Zealanders are looking for something completely different; more than just travel, it’s volunteerism, the opportunity to see the world and give something back to it. Our working holiday travellers get to see the best part of places overseas because they are living with local people who take them off the beaten track. So they get to see what the tourists do and then so much more. Not only that our travellers get to see countries that they just couldn’t get to on their own.’

IWH travellers start the programme with an introductory week in Kathmandu, and then during the teaching phase stay at one of several monasteries in the Kathmandu, Pharping, Namobuddha, and Serlo – Everest regions.

Vicki adds: `With the growing number of people around the world who are interested in learning more about the philosophy behind Buddhism, people have started seeking information regarding topics related to Buddhism. However, most of the monks have learned the religion only in their native language together with Sanskrit. This makes it difficult for the monks to communicate with English speaking communities to teach them lessons related to Buddhism.’

IWH was founded in 2001 by Vicki Kenny, who had established its sister company Nannies Abroad in 1995 after she had returned from her Big OE working as a nanny, and as a temp while she travelled the world. A spilled rice pudding and some challenging circumstances while she was in London working as a live-in nanny convinced her that there was the need for a specialist service to help others navigate the potential pitfalls and get the most from their life changing adventures. Since then Nannies Abroad and International Working Holidays have helped thousands of people take off for their Big OE.


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